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Are There Careers for Physics Degrees?

You probably already know that first year physics is a requirement for many professional programs.  If you are taking physics as a prerequisite for life-science professions such as medicine, or pharmacy, or taking physics or astronomy as a subsidiary subject to broaden your degree, then we welcome you to our department. 

There are many other career opportunities in which physics is a major requirement: geo-sciences, engineering, architecture, computer-related programs, environmental studies, technicians, science educators. There will also be some small number of you who will decide you like physics enough to consider it as your major.  Grenfell Campus of Memorial University now offers a single discipline B.Sc. with a major in Physics. A minor in Physics is also available. 

Physics majors can pursue a wide range of careers. However, a survey done by the U.S. Department of Labor found that a physics degree was an excellent preparation for many careers not necessarily associated with physics (e.g. law, business, medicine).  Employers value the technical and problem-solving skills that students acquire in the course of their physics studies.

Here are some excellent articles about careers open to those with a background in physics:

For those who are interested in Physics as a career choice, options for each level of study are summarized below:

Undergraduate Degrees

With General B.Sc. in Physics:
  • Teaching - high school and elementary. There is always a shortage of teachers trained in the physical sciences.
  • Laboratory Technician - in government or industry.
  • A range of technical jobs - radiation monitoring, electrical power plant operator, scientific instrument operator 
  • Meteorology (the study of weather) - proceed to Diploma program or graduate study
  • Computer programming in industry (e.g. aircraft design) 
  • Salesperson for technical instruments 
  • Self-employment - electronics/computer development, contracting for installation of acoustic insulation, etc. 
  • Continue to Law degree - e.g. industrial patents.
  • Proceed to Honours Degree

With Honours B.Sc. in Physics:

  • All of the above, but with more job responsibility - e.g. Head of Department at a high school. 
  • Some teaching at a community college.
  • Proceed to Master's Degree in Engineering (electrical, electronic, mechanical or aerospace), Environmental Science, Architecture. These may require one or two make-up courses. 
  • University laboratory demonstrator 
  • Proceed to M.Sc. in Physics 

Graduate Degrees

After the completion of the Honours Physics program, many more jobs are available if students pursue postgraduate studies in physics and related fields. (Information about admission to graduate study and Physics research areas at MUN is available from the Graduate Studies brochure page.) A graduate degree involves more concentrated study in the particular area the student chooses. This would include course work and a research thesis. An M.Sc. typically takes one or two years to complete, a Ph.D. could take an additional three to five years.

With M.Sc. in Physics:

  • Many of the above jobs, with more responsibility - including supervising technicians, recommending equipment to be purchased.
  • Teaching at a community college 
  • Field representative/trouble shooter for instrument companies, supervising installations 
  • Technical jobs requiring more physics knowledge 
  • Proceed to Ph.D. in Physics 

With Ph.D. in Physics:

  • More job responsibility - e.g. head of an laboratory, supervising several people, planning projects, authorizing purchases, hiring 
  • University teaching and self-directed or group research
  • Advanced level research in industry or government 
  • Development of new products for industry 
  • Design and improvement of scientific instrumentation 
  • Self-employment - scientific consulting for industry or government 

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